By Diana Sevanian, ACS Volunteer
Cancer is one of the most frightening diseases known to mankind. It doesn’t discriminate. It has no boundaries. Cancer doesn’t care if you’re a sweet toddler cutting her first molars, or a retiring executive planning a dream vacation with your wife, or a 16-year old preparing for her prom. Risk factors, or none, the disease often strikes with a mallet and can change the trajectory of one’s life.
Sometimes that new direction has unexpected gains and valuable realizations, however. One of them is finding that cancer can become a motivating magnet for bringing people of all ages and backgrounds together as an impassioned force for hope and action. Proof of that unity was seen on May 20 when the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life of Santa Clarita Valley was held at Central Park. With its western theme and festive feel, the 24-hour team walking event “Giving Cancer the Boot” raised far more than spirits and cancer awareness, it also kicked up some serious cash, about $375, 000, with all monies destined to help the ACS in its mission to end cancer.
“We wanted to make an impact in the fight against cancer and we sure did that!” elatedly stated ACS volunteer Teresa Kerr, who with Brad and Laura Peach tri-chaired the massive event.
Incoming monies are still coming in, and will be accepted toward this year’s SCV Relay tally through Aug. 31, she emphasized.
The ACS’ signature fundraiser, Relay 2017 was attended by approximately 4,000 people –many were cancer survivors, family members and friends of those who have battled the disease, neighbors and co-workers. The yearly ACS event features an emotion-packed survivor first lap and evening luminaria ceremony, themed team campsites, raffles, live music, games and other fun activities, speakers, cancer education, and food. During opening ceremonies, UCLA oncologist and researcher Dr. Alexander Black delivered a fascinating speech about ACS achievements in treating cancer, better understanding of genetics and improving targeted therapies, and ultimately saving more lives.
“Despite the temperature being 90 in the shade, our survivors were out in great numbers, raffle sales were terrific, food truck items were delish, our spirits soared, the live entertainment was wonderful and, as always, our evening-time Luminaria Ceremony was very emotional and compelling,” declared ACS SCV Unit Leadership Council chair Sandy Ends, an 18-year breast cancer survivor and 17-year ACS volunteer.
Relay, which began more than 30 years ago, has been an SCV fundraiser for 18 years. Since then, stated Brad Peach, who has been touched by cancer several times in his family, our community has raised more than $7 million.
“Santa Clarita rocks!” Peach announced.
Kathleen Pavard, 17-year ACS volunteer and SCV Unit Leadership Council member felt Relay 2017 was extra special.
“There was renewed spirit in the air and a true sense of our community coming together for a shared purpose, to find a cure for cancer,” stated Pavard, a Valencia resident who creates beautiful and unique handcrafted all-occasion greeting cards, with all proceeds benefiting ACS.
“If you’ve ever received a hug or a heartfelt ‘thank you’ from a cancer survivor at Relay for volunteering, you will never forget why you have chosen to do your part to fight this disease,” Pavard stated.
Breast cancer survivor Tonya Peat praised the event’s survivor first lap as an extremely supportive experience.
“My team started out years ago as a mom’s group. We have raised our kids together. Their support for me now and helping me raise money for the American Cancer Society means everything,” said the mother of three young daughters.
For further Relay For Life info go to www.scvrelay.org
The ACS SCV office can be contacted at (661) 298-0886 option 3.
25020 Avenue Stanford # 170, Valencia, 91355
The ACS is “open” for answers 24/7 at (800) 227-2345. www.cancer.org